Thanks to its colonial past, Continental cuisine is a given in Shillong, but sample local food and you’ll find that it has retained its original flavours, resisting the temptation to be modified for the tourists’ palate. Here’s a round-up of some great places at which to sample a bit of both:
Unless you think trousers that sit below your bum are cool, you might feel a bit out of place at this college hangout. Grab a table upstairs, and relive your college days with delicious, hygienic and affordable fast food. Try the perfectly-seasoned Munchies Special Burger, which comes with caramelised onions, bacon, mayo and lots of cheese. For something light, the Gourmet Maggi, which is loaded with veggies and a generous topping of cheese, is a great pick (00-918974087724; Don Bosco Square, Rani Villa Compound; 10am – 9pm).
Café Shillong, which is part sports bar- part café, takes its music as seriously as its food. Try the khao suey, which is the right consistency of soupy.
The beef momos, which come with fiery chilli chutney and a comforting broth, warm you right up. It also offers a range of coffees, said to be the best in town (00-91-364-2505759; LP Bldg, Laitumkhrah Main Rd, Nongkynrih; 12pm – 10pm).
LEENA’S KHASI DUKAN JADOH STALL
Leena and her daughter have been dishing out delicious local specialties for 30 years at their tiny stall, which offers pork-based tribal delicacies, and buzzes with the hum of gossiping aunties. Although not veggie-friendly at all, its various offerings, such as pig’s head, intestine and liver, are worth a try if you’re open to experimenting. Language might be a barrier here, but friendly customers will help you translate if required.
Try the dohnud – beef liver prepared with loads of onions, garlic, pepper and turmeric. The sharp and stinky chutney, tungrymbai, is made from soybeans fermented for over two weeks – an acquired taste but worth a try! Usually eaten on special occasions, dohkhleh is prepared from the meat around the neck, including the brain, and cooked with a delicate seasoning of ginger, onion, chilli and salt. Next, try dohjem – pig intestines cooked with black sesame seeds, which lends an interesting flavour and aroma to the dish. While the spices used in every dish are similar, each has its own distinct flavor.
This small family-run eatery is another place at which to try local food. With its classroom-style seating, dim lighting and framed poster of The Last Supper, it feels like a cross between a church and a dive bar. Try the Khasi Special Pork Combo, which comes with a variety of specialties, like the famous jadoh, rice stewed with chunks of the pigs innards, or dohsniang-nei-iong, a smoky pork curry cooked with local spices. This place also has something for vegetarians, like the yummy dai-nei-iong, a dal fry with black sesame seeds, or phansdieh, a simple, but delicious deep-fried potato dish lightly seasoned with turmeric (00-919612852889; Police Bazaar Rd; 10.30am – 8pm).